Jimmy Page testifies in 'Stairway to Heaven' copyright trial

Wed Jun 15, 2016 9:05pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page testified in a copyright infringement trial on Wednesday that he did not recall hearing until recently the song containing the musical riff his band is accused of stealing for its 1971 hit "Stairway to Heaven."

Page, 72, took the witness stand on the second day of the trial in federal court in Los Angeles, where the British band is accused of lifting the opening chords for "Stairway to Heaven" from American band Spirit's 1967 instrumental song "Taurus."

The lawsuit has called into question the originality of Led Zeppelin's signature song and one of the most widely heard compositions in rock history.

Page said he owned Spirit's self-titled 1968 album that includes "Taurus," which contains a descending chromatic four-chord progression that is at the center of the lawsuit.

But Page said the album was one of over 9,000 vinyl albums and compact discs in his music collection, and that he did not know when it made its way into his library.

"I don't think I have listened to the first album," Page said.

The civil action was brought by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the late Randy Wolfe, Spirit's guitarist and the composer of "Taurus." Wolfe drowned in 1997.

Skidmore's complaint seeks to have Wolfe's name added to the writing credits for "Stairway to Heaven" and damages in an amount to be proven at trial.   Continued...

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page is shown sitting in federal court for a hearing in a lawsuit involving their rock classic song "Stairway to Heaven" in this courtroom sketch in Los Angeles, California June 14, 2016.  REUTERS/Mona Edwards